My Sunshiny Life

{March 18, 2009}   Ski Trip Wrap Up

I’m back from Chamonix now and I am SO happy to have made the trip and I feel quite satisfied that I did two things that were out of my comfort zone – 1) Ski (obviously) and 2) drive on the right hand side of the road.  It made me think I should try more things I’ve never done before, so I might make myself a little bucket list. 

Yesterday we went to Le Tours which is WAY WAY WAY nicer than Le Flegere, the food was miles better, the scenery was breathtaking, the green run was ACTUALLY a green run – not a death drop twisty turny hard ass mountain..  I didn’t fall once on the mountain yesterday, which was fabulous and I was feeling quite chuffed with myself.  That unblemished record was broken however when a certain someone (who likes to tell us how much control he has) barrelled into me and knocked me over, stabbing me in the leg with his ski pole to boot.  I have a big bump on my shin, which I will be bringing into conversation with him at every opportunity.

We didn't photoshop that background in, honest

We didn't photoshop that background in, honest

 There are so many upsides to skiing, the beautiful scenery, fabulous food, burning off fabulous food, apres skiing!  I thought Apres Skiing sounded so posh, but all it means is that you don’t shower before you go out.  Rock on stinky sweaty ski peeps!  Chateau Neuf was the place to be, packed to the brim with gyrating bodies, dancing hard out to the live band.  JUMP JUMP! 

We left Chamonix today and headed to Geneva for a little tiki tour before we had to be at the airport.  We left loads of time so we could make it without any stress, but had enough time for a leisurely lunch and a wander around.   Setting out for the airport we hoped that the hard ass skiiers from our group hadn’t left Chamonix too late as they were packing in as much time on the slopes as possible.  We had (quite) a few issues with directions to the airport but figured it out and pulled into the rental car place with a sigh of relief… until the rental guy said we had a french car and we were on the swiss side.  WTF!  So after receiving a garbled set of directions we set off again, but to our dismay we kept ending back up on the swiss side of the airport.  For the life of us we couldn’t work out how to get to the french side.  We ended up on the motorway going 20 km’s out of our way because we took a wrong turn.  The generous slice of time we had to get to the airport was dwindling quickly.  In the end I was dropped off and the other two kept trying to find it.  I only just made the flight, rejoining the others from the group who were already there.  My driver and co-driver missed the flight.  I was gutted for them.  I received a text saying they had booked an Easyjet flight and would be leaving 50 minutes after our flight departed.  Then another text arrived saying they’d missed that flight as well.  Don’t worry though, they’re safe and sound back in London now… just a little later than the rest of us.

It was a fond farewell to skiing for now but not for very long hopefully.  I’ve wrangled an invite to S & B’s swiss ski chalet and am spreading the word that if a ski holiday is being organised I’d be totally up for it.  So until the snow falls again and the mulled wine is hot, this little ski bunny is on a break.


Chamonix Group 2009!

Chamonix Group 2009!

It was day two and filled to the top of our ski hat bobbles with enthusiasm, the learner group trooped out to the big mountain with the more experienced skiiers.  I arrived in the late group and the other learner ski bunnies had already tried the green run.  It was tough.  Really tough.  We were at Le Flegere and I think those ski grader guys need to rethink the slope grades.  Just because they ski off piste, down black runs and all over those rocky craggy mountains! 

So I arrived to the slope with the news that the green run was really hard and the learner group were still making their way down, mainly on their butts.  Stopping frequently for little mouthfuls of snow to slake their thirst.  I stood up the top of the very steep gradient and whimpered like a little puppy.  I was scared.  Very scared.  But I’d invested in my own pants and jacket the day before and this little ensemble needed to be modelled on the slopes.  I set off but it was a totally different game to the day before.  I had no control and no amount of snow ploughing could get me to stop. Right behind the danger sign I fell hard and lay spread eagled across the top of the entrance.  I couldn’t get up and my poles were stretched out just outside my reach.  I was pissed off.  Why was I so rubbish today when I’d been so confident on the learner slope yesterday?  I lay there for a bit with other skiiers whizzing past me, trying to get around my spreadeagled body.  I just couldn’t get up.  Sascha came to the rescue and unclipped me and listened to me venting in a total ski tantrum.  Then skiiers started to offer bits of advice, like ‘get up’  and ‘not that good a place to sit’  I can feel the rage return as I type this out.  Thousands of expletives raced through my mind, withering and ‘stop you dead in your tracks’ kind of retorts.  What came out however was ‘shut up you dork’.  I don’t think I’ve said the word dork for about 20 years.  Luckily Sascha came out with a few choice words, clipped on her snow board and left the guy behind in her powder. 

So I dragged my ski’s back up the slope and sat with Regis, who was catching some rays.  It was at this point that I realised that I hadn’t done up my boots before I started down the mountain.  I wonder how much of a difference that would have made.  The other guys finally made it back, after 2 and a bit hours of torture, sore, weary and full of stories of how tough it was.  I sat and listened to their stories, getting scared and then relieved that I hadn’t ventured further.  The words ‘racer’ and the pink racing stripes on my new gloves seemed to be taunting me.  After lunch I decided that the fear of going down was less than the thought that I hadn’t given it a good crack.

With this in mind I set off at a very slow pace down the slope, snow plough, snow plough.  I made it round the tight first couple of bends, only face planting once or twice.  Mar-TON was a godsend and he talked me down and encouraged me the entire way.  I couldn’t have done it without him.  The gradient was so bloody steep, god knows how that is a green run.  The long and short of it, I made it down in 15 minutes.  Ok, a few face plants and a LOT of moaning but I made it in record time.  Getting down from the ski lift at the top was another story and Marton was a bit sick of me whining by this stage, as I was facing the wrong way and adamant that I couldn’t move.  He had to leave as he was so much further down.  I stood there shaking, convinced I was going to slide off the side of the mountain, trying to dig my ski’s into the mound of snow on my safe side.   Every time a skiier came around the corner I would tell them how scared I was.  Finally a nice snow boarder took pity on me, chatted to me and unclipped me out of my ski’s.  I came down the mountain, exhilarated that I’d made it down the ‘scary’ green run and happy to be off the death drop by the ski lift.  Little Miss Sunshine lives to see another day on the slopes!

I’ve reached the ripe old age of 25 🙂 and haven’t ventured out on the slopes as yet.  Bit silly really considering how good the skiing is in NZ.  I’d probably still be living happily in my anti exercise bubble, but a work trip had been organised so it was time for me to click on the ski’s and give it a go.  Chamonix, look out, Little Miss Sunshine’s comin’ to get ya!

Actually I wasn’t looking forward to it to be honest and was quite vocal in my whinges and moans.  I didn’t expect to be any good at it and was quite prepared to hate it, sitting there drinking hot chocolate all day by a log fire.  1) There wasn’t any need for a log fire  as it was totally hot and 2) I didn’t suck at it…  Here’s a rundown of our first day – there were four of us learners, Ravi, Chet, Sarah and moi.  We had a ski lesson booked with a french instructor whose name we can’t remember.  Lets call him Jean Paul. 

So we started by trying to walk uphill.  I lead the pack.  No one was more surprised than me.  I could almost blow my own trumpet by saying I had a natural ability, but I won’t, because that would be totally uncool.  We tired quickly of frog legging up the little hill to slide down 10 metres, so we graduated frog school and slid over to carpet school.  This involves a tiny little lift that you hop on to and then you slide down a little baby slope.  I loved it but it didn’t take long for us to master this.  I tried to be a bit clever and hop off the carpet slide – totally over estimating my ‘natural ability’ which didn’t include jumping sideways with ski’s on – off a moving slide.  I arsed over and lay there laughing until the ice started burning my skin and I had to move.  We eventually moved on to the disc slope where you put a disc between your legs and lean back slightly as you get pulled up the hill.  I leaned back a little too far and arsed over here as well.  Fact: If you are laughing you cannot get up, it’s impossible.  The disc on the bum slope was slightly scary after the little slope, but we pulled through.  Chet and Sarah were getting it by now and Ravi and I were zooming down the slopes like semi pro’s, turning, stopping and snow ploughing our little hearts out. 

We were filled with confidence and stories of our bravado and heroic mishaps, entertaining all the skiiers who had been up the tough slopes.  Some had a harder time of it than others.  Over estimation of ability and harder slopes than the advertised ‘blue’ meant Little Heena came a cropper… for the whole day.  She went up the top of the slope with the hard ass skiiers and snow boarders of the group. They were going to peel off and go down black slopes while LH ‘found her feet’ back on to skis after a little break.  She started out confident and happy, as she slalomed down the slopes, with the wind in her hair and the beautiful snow capped mountains acting as a picture perfect ski scene backdrop.  Until she crashed.  Until she crashed and burned.  The blue slope mixed with the red and black slopes and LH realised quite quickly that she was well out of her depth.  She unhitched her skis and started the long trek down the slope, with the experienced skiiers in the group giving her moral support as they zoomed up and down the mountain.  She got her ski’s and poles taken down so she just had to get herself down.  She got a little lift with Jane as they toboganned down the hill on Jane’s snowboard, against the advice of Sascha.  Advice that would have be well heeded, as they arsed off and tumbled down the hill at a rapid pace.   As LH made her way down she got moral support by all the skiiers in our group, but conversely the folks on the ski lift took great delight at heckling her and Heena took great delight in trying to throw snowballs at them.  Poor LH took three hours to get down the mountain, at times flipping on to her belly and zooming down the slope like a seal trying to get down faster than the painfully slow progress she was making on her feet. 

Finally the guys talked the skidoo man into rescuing Heena, by this stage she was in view and the skidoo man was fascinated with her downward seal like progress.  With a little flicky show off (but very cool) rev, the skidoo man set off on his rescue mission.  He was fit, Heena was stoked.  This morning she decided to join the beginners – but that’s another story!

et cetera